How to make PHC a favourable career choice for medical students: Strategies and reflections

Doctor 2019 youth

(Martin Brosy, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Alaa Abusufian E. Dafallah, a 6th year medical student from University of Khartoum, Sudan. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Primary healthcare is the foundation of all health systems as it is the first contact and ongoing link between people and their health providers. Yet 400 million people around the world do not have access to basic health services. After the new global commitment to primary healthcare (PHC) in Astana a few months back, PHC has never been more important.

A few months back, I went on a medical mission to Kordofan, a state 12 hrs from from the capital city of Sudan. As we visited village after village, I observed the status of PHC centres. Understaffed, under resourced, and bluntly said, empty. One centre was a room, slightly larger than a classroom, with only a desk and a couch  where even a size 16 cannula could not be found. It became quite apparent to me that aside from the low resources, the notable shortage of primary health care workers is greatly affecting the provision of quality basic health care services. I silently asked myself, who would work here ? How can we make Primary Healthcare an attractive career choice for medical students who constitute the bulk of the future health workforce ?

As a strong believer that education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world, one of the fundamental solutions is reforming of undergraduate medical education on 3 main aspects – Firstly, decentralisation of medical education such that states within a country have schools that graduate doctors who will work in the same communities they came from. In addition, medical schools must ensure their selection policies are inclusive of students from rural/underserved areas by providing financial aid whenever needed. The second aspect is to increase the longitudinal exposure and training of students in PHC settings. It it has been documented that undergraduate training largely influences career choices of medical students however, in most schools, 90% of clinical training is in tertiary health institutions and in the 4 main disciplines of medicine. What if PHC or family medicine would be the 5th ? The final aspect is to promote social accountability amongst medical students by creating opportunities whether core or elective within the curriculum that allow for students to engage with and feel accountable to their communities.

Another approach would be to address postgraduate training. Most students feel there is no room for career growth within PHC especially in rural areas, hence it is essential to create a strong and compelling continuous professional development and training programme for physicians working in PHC settings.

Finally, addressing working conditions is integral. It is paramount to bridge the payment gap between specialists and PHC physicians by increasing the funding for PHC in general. This, coupled by appropriate working hours, well resourced centres and adjunct benefits like insurance and housing will help reduce the perceived imbalance between specialists and PHC physicians.

In conclusion, the shortage of primary health care workers is an complex issue, which will require a combination of strategies to solve. It is important to involve youth in the continuous assessment of the situation and the implementation of innovative ideas to address this challenge.

Health is for all, by all.

About the author

Ms. Alaa Abusufian E. Dafallah is a 6th year medical student from University of Khartoum, Sudan with 5 years of experience in the field of student advocacy and medical education development in Sudan and Africa. She is currently the Regional co-ordinator of Medical education for Africa at the International Federation for Medical Students Association (IFMSA). Alaa recently founded MHSL (Model Health system Leaders ) a novel initiative that aims to promote youth understanding & reforming of health systems. She aspires to pursue a career in Health systems and health workforce planning.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

It’s time to ‘eliminate the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence’, urges UN chief

Freshwater is saltier – and it’s bad for the planet and our health

A week to decide if the EU is to have a Banking Union

Fear casts again a cold, ugly shadow over Europe; Turkey sides with Russia

Global hunger is on the rise. These simple steps could help eradicate it

Now doctors can manipulate genetics to modify babies, is it ethical?

Parliament pushes for cleaner cars on EU roads by 2030

At COP24, countries agree concrete way forward to bring the Paris climate deal to life

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate change and youth inaction: oblivion or nonchalance?”, AIESEC wonders from Brussels

UN should be ‘exemplary’ in defending judicial independence, top Judge tells Security Council

Novartis and Johnson & Johnson to deprive Europeans of their right to Health

Europe to turn the Hamburg G20 Summit into a battlefield

1st Exclusive High Level Dialogue: China-EU Cybersecurity and 5G Cooperation

Can one FTA and 110 lobby meetings make the dirty oil clean in Europe?

5G mobile is nearly here – but we should share networks to make it affordable

Online radio and news broadcasts: Parliament and Council reach deal

Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May at last week’s EU Council. Source: EC Audiovisual Services / Copyright: European Union, 2017 / Photo: Etienne Ansotte

EU leaders open “Phase Two” of Brexit talks and warn Theresa May of tougher times

UN welcomes ‘record’ Brussels conference pledge of nearly $7 billion to support Syrians

UN chief seeking ‘renewed commitment’ to global rules and values, as world leaders head to New York

Is sub-Saharan Africa ready for the electric vehicle revolution?

Close to final agreement on the EU Banking Union

Advanced economies still have plenty of work to do to reach Sustainable Development Goals

EU agrees on Ukraine – Georgia visa-free travel amid veto risks and populist fears

Why India can show us how to achieve growth with purpose

Breaking news: Juncker’s Commission mutant trojan horse is on the loose in Strasbourg

UN expresses concern following wave of street protests in Iraq and elsewhere

Heat-resistant crops, ‘green’ infrastructure, can prepare Near East and North Africa to better tackle droughts – UN agency

FIAT Chrysler: from Geneva Motor show to the World, and back

The EU threatens to occupy Libya militarily; is another colonial war brewing?

Three-quarters of South Sudanese children have known nothing but war, says UNICEF

Ahead of street protests, UN rights chief urges Guatemalan Government to respect democratic freedoms

UN report sheds light on ‘unimaginable horrors’ faced by migrants and refugees in Libya, and beyond

UN chief hails victory of ‘political will’ in historic Republic of North Macedonia accord

All talk but no action against fraudulent bankers

Poland: €676 million worth of EU investments in better rails and roads

United States: UN human rights office welcomes California moratorium on death penalty

TTIP’s 11th round starts in Miami but EU-US businesses see no sunny side

EU Copyright Directive: Google News threatens to leave Europe while media startups increasingly worry

China dazzles the world with her Silk Road plan to connect, Asia, Europe and Africa

The ECB again takes care of the bankers not the people

High-flyers: China is on top of the world for skyscraper construction

Remembering slave trade offers chance to raise awareness, ‘oppose all forms of modern slavery’ – UNESCO

A Sting Exclusive: “Youth voice must be heard in climate change negotiations!”, Bérénice Jond Board Member of European Youth Forum demands from Brussels

UN, global health agencies sound alarm on drug-resistant infections; new recommendations to reduce ‘staggering number’ of future deaths

AI-driven companies need to be more diverse. Here’s why

Brexit: new European Parliament reaffirms wholehearted support for EU position

More than nine in ten children exposed to deadly air pollution

What’s going on in Chernobyl today?

Brexit: Only Corbyn and May in concert can make the needed compromises

Is your business model fit for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The cost of housing is tearing our society apart

State aid: Commission approves €300 million public support for the development of ultrafast broadband network in Greece

The green hydrogen revolution has started, and it won’t be stopped

The global issue of migration in 2017

Parliament names radio studio after journalists murdered in December attack

Greece did it again

World Food Day: here’s what the UN is doing to fix ‘intolerable’ wrong of hunger

Digital Single Market: Survey shows Europeans are well aware of rules against unjustified geo-blocking

Pakistan: UN Security Council condemns ‘heinous and cowardly’ terrorist attacks

Entrepreneurship and strategic planning: the enabler

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s